Former players becoming club presidents — within a year of retiring — isn’t the norm, especially for clubs that have been around for over a century. But Juan Sebastián Verón isn’t normal. The retired Estudiantes and Argentina icon, a man who no one remembers with hair, is the new president of Estudiantes, his boyhood club.
After a long career, that started as a teenager at Estudiantes,Verón finally retired at the age of 39, after re-joining Estudiantes for a final trot. Sadly, many outside of South America only remember Verón for unspectacular spells in England with Manchester United and then Chelsea. But that’s a huge disservice to a man whose iconic cranium has shined almost everywhere else he has laced up his boots, namely in Serie A and Argentina’s Primera División. Five years ago, at the age of 34, after returning from a long European adventure, Veron led Estudiantes to the Copa Libertadores title, earning the Most Valuable Player award in the process. That’s not too shabby, considering most 34-year-old adults cramp up picking up soap.
It’s always great to see players, who still have a passion for the game, eager to contribute to the institutions that raised them. It’s also great to see a player, who left a club 18 years ago, being embraced by an overwhelming number of that club’s supporters. That’s not to say that Argentine fans aren’t capable of changing their minds and running Verón out of town. Argentine fans are, shall we say, passionate. But for now, this is one of those beautiful stories, where ambition, passion, loyalty, and respect for baldness converge. We need to celebrate that while we can.